Gun registry expansion on Chicago City Council agenda

March 13, 2013 10:17:18 AM PDT
Chicago City Council members are considering a proposal to crackdown on gun crimes.

Ald. Ed Burke says he wants to expand the city's gun registry. He says he hopes that forcing gun offenders to register -- much like sex offenders -- will help cut down on crime.

Under the plan, the gun registry would be broadened so that anyone who commits a violent crime using a gun would have to register with the city. If someone who committed a crime outside the city moves to Chicago, they also would have to register.

The offender's name, current address, and photo would be accessible to the public.

"This is not waving a magic wand to solve violent crime in Chicago. This is one more tool that the police department can use in its very successful war on violent crime in Chicago," said Burke, alderman of Chicago's 14th Ward.

It is an expansion of a registry that Burke championed about three years ago. When it was created, anyone convicted of unlawful use of a weapon had to register after they got out of prison. However, since the registry was created, registration has been sparse. It has about 600 names on it currently.

Critics worry that the city does not have money for the expanded gun registry.

"We have been having some very good meetings with the police department on finding creative ways to get them additional funding to supplement their force; that is an ongoing concern. But I think the department is doing very well with the resources they have. It's up to us to find them some more resources to help," said Alderman Brendan Reilly of the city's 42nd Ward.

Burke says expanding the registry to include anyone who commits a crime with a gun could help reduce crime.

"I think anything that we do that chips away at the larger problem of illegal guns in our city is a good thing. We can't keep waiting for Springfield and Washington to act," 47th Ward Ald. Ameya Pawar said.

The Illinois State Rifle Association argues the opposite. Its members say putting people on a registry, along with their pictures, would make them targets of crime.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and many aldermen are very supportive. The mayor has been pushing for tougher gun control laws.